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Blu-ray Music Review: U2 – 360° At The Rose Bowl

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U2’s latest 360° Tour has taken the extravagant stage show thing to a whole new level of absurdity. Just when you thought it couldn’t get any more elaborate than the Zoo TV or Pop Mart tours, they go ahead and plop down this massive, 164-foot tall, four-legged, steel, space monster, nicknamed “the claw,” smack dab in the middle of your local football stadium.

This monstrosity downright humbles some of the other enormous stage shows of recent years, such as the Rolling Stones’ A Bigger Bang, and Genesis’ Turn It On Again tours, and essentially proclaims, “we’ll fit both of your measly stage shows together inside of OURS”. As over-the-top as this getup may be, it is quite magnificent nonetheless – and this here concert fanatic definitely appreciates the effort.

U2 360° At The Rose Bowl was my first foray into Blu-ray territory, and it looks like there is no turning back now. The additional expense of Blu-ray over DVD is still a bit difficult to swallow, but the upgrades in audio and video quality are well worth the expense. I am accepting donations, however, to upgrade my existing 400-plus concert DVD collection to Blu-ray.

Touring in support of their Grammy-nominated (huh?) album No Line On The Horizon, U2 kicked off their 360 world tour on June 30, 2009 in Barcelona, Spain. The tour is actually still ongoing but was temporarily postponed due to a back injury Bono sustained during preparation for the North American third leg of the tour. The October 25th, Pasadena, CA, Rose Bowl performance filmed for this video was the band’s biggest ever US show, with a audience exceeding 97,000 people.

The 23-song setlist was a bit of a disappointment for me, mainly because it focused on the new NLOTH album so much, which I found to be one of the band’s weaker efforts. It didn’t help that they kicked off with the dreadful “Get On Your Boots” either, although they actually opened all of the shows with “Breathe,” and then, for whatever reason, relegated this performance to the bonus features. They follow with “Magnificent,” which is one of the better songs from NLOTH, and eventually play four more songs from that album before the night is through.

U2’s excellent 2000 album, All That You Can’t Leave Behind, gets the second most nods with five songs, and the rest of the set is a mix of songs going as far back as “Sunday Bloody Sunday,” from 1983’s War, on up to a couple of tracks from 2004’s How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb.

The only real surprise of the night would be the inclusion of the lesser known “Ultra Violet (Light My Way),” from Achtung Baby, near the end of the setlist. It was also cool to hear The Unforgettable Fire‘s title track for a change, but just not in lieu of what are perhaps their three best songs ever; “A Sort Of Homecoming,” “Pride,” and “Bad.”

The concert was shot entirely in HD using 27 cameras, and although the picture isn’t exactly reference quality standard, there is still plenty of amazing looking footage to be found. You will notice some digital noise and grain during many of the long shots, but most of the medium range and close-up shots look spectacular. The two audio options are PCM stereo and DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio and they both sound fantastic. The DTS surround track provides a more immersive concert like atmosphere that makes you feel like you are down on the stadium floor.

The camera work was a bit frustrating to deal with, as there was just too much constant sweeping, panning, zooming, and quick cuts. Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should. The camera work also didn’t really capture the shear magnitude of the stage show as too many close-ups and weird angle shots were relied upon, and the really wide shots of the entire stage were just too far away to show enough detail.

The bonus material includes the following:
– Squaring The Circle: Creating U2360° – A Documentary
– U2360° Tour Clips
– Bonus Track – “Breathe” (Live at the Rose Bowl)
– Berlin Time-Lapse Video
– European Tour Opening – Barcelona
– North American Tour Opening – Chicago
– Videos: “Get On Your Boots,” “Magnificent,” “I’ll Go Crazy If I Don’t Go Crazy Tonight,” “I’ll Go Crazy If I Don’t Go Crazy Tonight” (Live at Barcelona)
– The making of “Get On Your Boots” Video
– The making of “Magnificent” Video
– ROM Content: Edge’s Tour Photo Gallery, Screensavers, Desktop Wallpapers, Weblinks, BD-Live

This is not the perfect U2 concert video for me, but I can certainly appreciate the fact that these guys have gone the extra mile to make this one of the most ambitious and visually stunning concert tours in the history of rock ‘n’ roll. You would be foolish not to pick up a copy of U2 360° Live At The Rose Bowl and witness it for yourself.

Track List:
01. Get On Your Boots
02. Magnificent
03. Mysterious Ways
04. Beautiful Day
05. I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For
06. Stuck In A Moment You Can’t Get Out Of
07. No Line On The Horizon
08. Elevation
09. In A Little While
10. Unknown Caller
11. Until the End of the World
12. The Unforgettable Fire
13. City of Blinding Lights
14. Vertigo
15. I’ll Go Crazy If I Don’t Go Crazy Tonight
16. Sunday Bloody Sunday
17. MLK
18. Walk On
19. One
20. Where The Streets Have No Name
21. Ultra Violet (Light My Way)
22. With Or Without You
23. Moment Of Surrender

Performance – 8/10
Production – 8/10

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About Paul Roy

  • I was actually very lucky to see the 360 tour at Wembley Stadium, and I was disappointed by the DVD. I see what they have tried to do, to create a more intimate fell, but what you missed out on is the big stadium spectacle.

  • Paul Roy

    Thanks El Bicho. I am already a fan of your Rhapsody In Blu feature. If you already saw the concert on YouTube I wouldn’t bother with the DVD/Blu-ray especially if you are not that crazy about the new stuff. You have to see this stage show one way or another though.

  • Welcome to the world of Blu-ray, Paul. The format is awesome for music fans, especially with a good surround system. Check out my Rhapsody in Blu feature for some recommendations/upgrades for your collection.

    Not being a fan of the album and unimpressed by what I saw when the concert was aired on YouTube I am going to pass on this disc though. Hopefully some of their older concert releases will get worthy upgrades.